On January 3rd, 2019, the anniversary of the Bitcoin Genesis Block, people with Bitcoin and other coins are urged to pull their cryptocurrency off of exchanges, such as Binance and Coinbase, and into their own wallets to which they “own” the private keys.

The Proof of Keys campaign was started by Trace Mayer, host of the Bitcoin Knowledge Podcast. Mayer began the movement on Twitter, famously saying, “Not your keys, not your coins”. As most experienced crypto users know if you have your crypto on an exchange, it’s technically not yours. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that a lot of new users understand.

Users have no access to the private keys of the crypto they have on exchanges — the exchange controls them. As such, the exchanges can do whatever they please with the crypto and the wallets it’s stored in. This is extremely risky to crypto investors, and it’s something that Proof of Keys is attempting to address. By making new users aware of this fact, the movement aims to address a few things:

It urges everyone to learn how to create and manage Bitcoin wallet or several crypto wallets, whether they are software wallets, hardware, or paper.

It also teaches the invaluable lesson that you only own the crypto that you also have access to the private keys to. Ergo the saying: “Not your keys, not your Crypto.”

Next, it seeks to reaffirm monetary sovereignty, which was the main reason Bitcoin was born in the first place.

Finally, it’s also the Birthday of the Bitcoin blockchain 🥳

Why It’s Important

The purpose of the Proof of Keys movement aligns precisely with that of Bitcoin’s creation. And that purpose is to replace error-prone third parties and put control of one’s assets back in the hands of the individual. Exchanges are still playing a critical in increasing crypto adoption, as one can easily switch between most assets, and using them can in some cases, even be safer than handling it yourself. But with more decentralized exchanges like Binance DEX and more accessible crypto custodian solutions like Trust Wallet, it becomes increasingly essential for people to understand the importance of their Private Keys and what it means for their financial sovereignty and safety.

History has illustrated why this is the case, with the most infamous example being the 2014 hack of Mt. Gox, in which $473 million worth of cryptocurrency was lost. And while this is the most substantial loss of its kind in Bitcoin’s short history, similar things happen quite frequently. Exchanges freeze accounts, preventing users from removing what’s supposed to be their assets. If you’re using an exchange to store your crypto, keep in mind that exchanges can and have shut down in the past, resulting in partial or total loss of user’s funds.

Partake in the Movement

There are multiple ways how you can participate in Proof of Keys, but the most basic and essential step would be for you to withdraw your funds from exchanges and hold them with your own wallet.

If you install Trust and create your first wallet, you might ask yourself where to find your Private keys. Trust utilizes a 12-word Recovery Phrase for better security and convenience of managing multiple assets.

If you are completely new to crypto and you haven’t familiarized yourself with any wallet, now is a good time to do so. Learn about your assets, pull them off of the exchanges and take back your financial sovereignty.

The creator(s) of Bitcoin Him/Herself, Satoshi Nakamoto, would be proud:

What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.Bitcoin Whitepaper

To learn more about the movement and other ways you can help to spread the word, check out proofofkeys.com for additional resources.